There's hardly anything more welcoming than Middle Eastern hospitality when it comes to generosity of food. And no other time is this more evident when you've foolishly waited until 2pm to eat lunch and your stomach is growling and they bring you a plate of pickles and bread and two glasses of sweet cinnamon tea along with your menu. Then all hunger related anxiety vanishes instantly.
Complimentary pickles and bread
We nibble on the pickles and make little makeshift sandwiches while pondering the menu. I particularly like the chillis and olives and the tomato although the pink turnip pickles don't really tickle my fancy.
Sparkling mineral water and ayran
The drinks available are self serve from the two large fridges inside. I choose an ayran, a salted yogurt drink that I've grown to like and is similar to a salty lassi and a sparkling mineral water.
Mixed plate (new) $16
Service here gets a bad rap but it is fast and the food is brought out with a smile although asking for recommendations is tricky as our waitress is reticent to give them. But when in doubt order the mixed plate as it has pretty much everything you could want to try on one plate. There is a creamy and smoky baba ganoush, a delicious hummus, fresh tabouleh, two orbs of their famous felafel, moist chicken shish tawook, lamb pieces, onion, kofta and kibbeh then you just dive right in. Peeling open the fresh Lebanese bread quarters we spread the bread with the dips and deposit the tabouleh, some meat and some pickles inside. There is also some fluffy toum (garlic sauce) and chilli sauce on the side. And does anyone see a face in the plate above or is that just me?
In my haste to order, I didn't realise that we got some felafel on the mixed plate so we inadvertently ordered another separate plate of them. The felafel here are well known for being crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside and indeed they have an earth shatteringly crunchy outer. They come with a small serve of tahini sauce.
Sambousek Cheese $8
The cheese pastries with a crispy hand made pastry outer are piping hot when served. They are filled with a thick cheese with Lebanese spices that is instantly comforting and appealing.
Kobbsa Lamb $12
I know, I know, this is food for two? I realise that we over ordered but they said that we could take away anything we couldn't finish. The lamb shank comes on saffron rice and is slow cooked so the meat comes off the bone. It comes with a yogurt sauce although I love this with the garlicky toum to give it a burst of flavour. And I think a dinner like this could have kept us going until the morning quite easily!
So tell me Dear Reader, in your travels, which countries, towns or cities have you found particularly welcoming? And which place do you think does the best felafel?
222 South Terrace, Bankstown NSW 2200
Open 7 days 8:30-10pm